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Camouflage, Design, and the Art of Prostheses
Accessories, clothing, and outward appearance are just as personal as any other form of self-expression. When it comes to prostheses, many amputees want a device that’s not only functional, but is also an extension of their personal style.
In Naked Prosthetics’ (NP) design lab, Manager of Custom Graphics, Rachel Lowing, is leading a variety of projects related to the aesthetic appeal of finger and partial hand prosthetic devices. As part of her research, and a nod to her art and sculpture education, Rachel recently dug into the history of camouflage, specifically Kryptek.
Kryptek is one of the newer design options for NP’s MCPDriver, ThumbDriver, and PIPDriver prosthetic devices and a popular choice among digit amputees.
“My interest in studying human perception—specifically the nexus of art, tech, and nature—informs my design choices,” shares Rachel, whose wealth of camouflage knowledge stems from her studies on WWI era artists such as Paul Klee and Albert Thayer. These two focused on photography and abstract expressionism, and the wild colored visual distortion that could occur. Their work resulted in the birth of disruptive camouflage, followed by mimicry, concealing, and disguise coloration.
A fascinating extension of what was once a marriage of art and war tactics, Kryptek has become a branded, recognizable pattern across many objects, from hunting accessories to kids’ toys, with colors ranging from traditional greys and greens to bright purple and aquamarine.
Johnny Wirstiuk, from Alberta, Canada, wears two Kryptek MCPDrivers on his right hand. An avid outdoorsman, Johnny says, “I chose Kryptek because of my personality. My main hobbies are outdoors. I love hunting, fishing, ATVing, and camping with my family, so it had a very outdoorsy appeal. I’ve also always been an admirer of the military so the Kryptek camouflage pattern stood out.”
Brad Krit, lead product engineer at NP, talks about the introduction of the Krpytek coating style. “It was one of the few styles that I feel spoke to our rugged audience a bit more. To me it stood out as one of the coolest options, and the farthest departure from our classy and professional originals.”
“When I was first introduced to NP Devices, I was just excited that I had a shot at having fingers again,” says Johnny. “They could have been pink, and I would have rocked them! But my wife and I were browsing the website and came across the color options, which put the icing on the cake. We didn’t even make it through all the options, and I had already decided on Kryptek.”
Johnny’s resuming his activities of fishing, ATVing, running a chainsaw, and holding his tools properly again, and he’s wearing his device with pride. For NP wearers, its all about function and style.
NP chose to bring a classic camouflage pattern and integrate it with hi-tech design to give amputees an opportunity to choose what they’d like the world to see. The team continues to push for even more custom options.
“Helping people interface with an environment that has changed for them is extremely gratifying,” says Rachel. “We want the devices to feel personal and intentional; extending utility into beauty.”